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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY - SLOVAK VERSION OF MS VISTA HITS THE SHELVES IN MID-MARCH

Vista worth the wait?

THE SLOVAK versions of the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system and Microsoft Office 2007 will go on sale on March 15.
For the first time ever, Microsoft will be offering a fully localized Slovak version of the Windows operating system for the Slovak market, Tomáš Koška, product manager at Microsoft Slovakia, told The Slovak Spectator.

THE SLOVAK versions of the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system and Microsoft Office 2007 will go on sale on March 15.

For the first time ever, Microsoft will be offering a fully localized Slovak version of the Windows operating system for the Slovak market, Tomáš Koška, product manager at Microsoft Slovakia, told The Slovak Spectator.

"The majority of our Slovak customers have been waiting for the localized versions, so we've only sold a few hundred units so far," Koška said. He explained that customers can only use the language version that they originally purchased. The only exception is with Windows Vista Ultimate, the most complete of the operating system's five editions, which comes with all language packs included.

The English versions of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 are already being sold in Slovakia and have been available to corporate customers since November 2006.

Microsoft's preparations for what their website called "the most significant product launch in Microsoft Corp.'s history", culminated on January 30 with the official worldwide launch of Vista and Office 2007. Since then, the two applications have been made available in over 70 countries around the world and translated into 18 different languages. Microsoft plans to have Vista and Office 2007 translated into 99 languages by the end of 2007.

Unfortunately, despite their preparations, Vista did not prove to be the instant hit that Microsoft had hoped it would.

Around two weeks after the worldwide launch of Vista, Microsoft announced that the sales of their new operating system were lower than originally anticipated. Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer said that the analysts' projections had been overly optimistic.

Koška agreed. "Steve Ballmer merely noted that analysts had given overly optimistic figures for Windows Vista sales for the first half of 2007. So far, our sales [in Slovakia] have been in line with our own forecast," he said.

He added that Microsoft expects Vista to boost PC sales in the Czech and Slovak republics by 15 to 20 percent, though this might be due to Vista's demanding system requirements that many of today's computers will have a hard time handling.

This product is Microsoft's first new operating system in the past six years, since Windows XP was released in 2001, the Slovak computer magazine PC Revue reports. The magazine claims that the Windows operating system is currently installed on approximately 95 percent of all the world's computers.

Microsoft sees the introduction of Vista and Office 2007 as a celebration of their unique cooperation with their partners that has contributed to the launch of a new era in computing, in which computer work is easier, safer, and more enjoyable.

"Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 will transform the way people work and play," said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. "Personal computers have become a key part of the daily lives of almost a billion people worldwide. Millions of consumers had a hand in helping us design, test and create the most exciting versions of Windows and Office we've ever released. Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 squarely address the needs and aspirations of people around the globe."

Some of the changes in the latest version of Windows include a better user interface, a wider range of entertainment possibilities, improved security and privacy protection, built-in parental controls for internet access, and a search tool that helps users find every and any kind of media on their computer or on the internet.

"These are the most amazing versions of Windows and Office ever," Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, said at the Vista and Office 2007 product launch on January 30. "The visual effects are spectacular; the navigation is streamlined and intuitive. They make it much easier to protect your PC, yourself and your children online. And they work together to help you accomplish more throughout the day."

Despite Microsoft's corporate hype, local reviewers are taking a slightly more sober view on Vista.

"Vista doesn't really offer any dramatic changes, but rather just a lot of little improvements, especially regarding security and the graphical interface. For instance, work is a bit quicker and easier in Vista, thanks to its three dimensional overviews of all open documents," says Tomáš Bella, the editor of the Sme daily's computer section.

According to Bella, Vista's main failing is the fact that only people with bleeding-edge computers will be able to make use of the majority of Vista's new improvements.

PC Revue magazine reported that only 15 percent of the world's PCs have enough memory and a graphics card that is powerful enough to allow them to run Vista.

Furthermore, according to Bella, the differences between what most people have now and what they see with Vista are few.

"People who bought their computer recently and who are able to protect it from viruses and hackers don't have much reason to invest in a new operating system," he said.

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